Best Barbecue in Austin and San Antonio

Apr 13th, 2010, 06:34 AM
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Best Barbecue in Austin and San Antonio

Please recommend some places for barbecue in Austin and in San Antonio. If they have good country music and good food -- so much the better, but our emphasis is on the food. We will have a car. Thanks.
mscarls is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 07:15 AM
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Rudy's in Austin is really good. You are only going there for the food. Kraft paper place settings, but best brisket in Texas.

This question will be like asking which religion will get me to heaven? Posters will have diverse and emotional responses.
stumpworks73 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 07:16 AM
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We like Rudy's too. If you want a cool atmosphere and good food, go to the Salt Lick a little outside of Austin.
volcanogirl is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 07:26 AM
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Forgive my question, please, but if you like barbecue, is there any such thing as "bad" barbecue? Aren't they all pretty much similar?

Aside from beef vs pork, that is.

Had to ask...
RetiredVermonter is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 07:45 AM
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It can be too dry, too fatty, not have enough flavor, etc. Not all are created equal. Sauces, spices, type of wood, quality of meat all vary.
volcanogirl is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 08:13 AM
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Have not been to any Texas BBQ establishments, but my understanding is that there's a large concentration of very highly regarded BBQ joints in Lockwood, TX, which is located between the two cities: Black's Barbecue, Smitty's Market, and Kreutz Market are most often mentioned in this regard.

Also in nearby Luling is another place often considered to be of similar quality, City Market.

All four routinely show up in "Best of Texas BBQ" lists I've seen, along with Rudy's and Salt Lick.
bachslunch is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 08:16 AM
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I live in CT, and when we visited relatives in Austin, they took us to Rudy's. Amazing BBQ!!
ajmartin05 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 08:23 AM
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Sorry, that should be:

Lockhart, TX

(not Lockwood)

bachslunch is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 09:04 AM
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Retired Vermonter: all the same beef vs pork

Just like wine: all the same red, white or pink?
stumpworks73 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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If what I've read is correct, Texas BBQ tends to be classically about three things: beef brisket, ribs (can be beef or pork), and sausage.
bachslunch is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 09:21 AM
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Brisket tends to be king, but I also like the links.
volcanogirl is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 09:37 AM
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No, RetiredVermonter, BBQ is not just about "beef and pork," and the different types really aren't all that similar. There are in fact at least four primary regional styles of this cuisine: Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis, and Texas (with subdivisions in some regions, especially Carolina).

There are indeed regional differences in terms of whether to use sauce or not, and if so what kind (Texas is often sauceless, Memphis often uses dry rub without sauce, Kansas City sauces are often tomato based, Carolina sauces can be mustard or vinegar or tomato based depending on the area). Many areas are pork based, but Texas tends to be beef based.

None of the above are hard-and-fast absolutes, but these seem to be the tendencies.

I've experienced Memphis style BBQ in some depth:

and have also been to Bryant's in Kansas City and Bessinger's in Charleston, SC. Here's a report I did on the latter over at Chowhound (see last entry):;topic-596763
bachslunch is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 10:16 AM
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Another vote for Rudy's. Only frequented two in San Antonio but imagine they are all equally good. The store in Leon Springs is where I learned who George Strait is.
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 06:52 PM
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Kreutz Market in Lockhart and the Salt Lick outside Austin are both good choices for the food. The Salt Lick has more atmosphere. Both are Texas barbecue institutions.
saige is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 09:15 PM
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KC BBQ has molasses based (think sweet) sauces. Think pork ribs, burnt ends (beef or pork), where the meat is almost caramelized on the ends (i.e. burnt) which makes things even sweeter. Baked beans are extremely sweet and usually have chunks of beef in them. A famous sandwich is the "Martin City Mayor" which is pulled pork or beef, with cole slaw on top. Cole slaw is usually very sweet. My father calls KC BBQ "candy" but he's a fan of the more vinegar based BBQ sauces... Best BBQ restaurants in KC are Jackstack and Smokestack in Martin City or KC Masterpiece for classic *very* sweet BBQ.

TX BBQ has robust, pepper based tomato sauces. For instance, Stubb's BBQ sauce is very robust and spicy. Think beef brisket, pulled beef or beef/pork sausages. The sausages are primarily from the German influence in TX. Baked beans are usually very spicy with chunks of onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos in it, a world away from KC BBQ. Cole slaw is usually very creamy and sweet. Absolute best BBQ is Rudy's. Gives you a classic view of TX BBQ.

Carolina BBQ is vinegar and tomato based. The sauces are usually very thin and tangy. Chicken is usually the meat of choice as the vinegar sauce goes best with chicken. Cole slaw is usually robust and not as sweet or creamy (sometimes with no mayonaisse). Baked beans are similar to TX but not as spicy. Oddly enough, the best Carolina BBQ I had was in Orlando. A lady from SC had moved there and started up a restaurant there. Too bad I can't remember the name. I think it was up in the Altamonte Springs area.

Louisiana BBQ is similar to Carolina BBQ for chicken, but it includes shrimp, which is usually a sauce from beer or wine and many spices. Side dishes are usually Cajun staples like dirty rice or corn maque choue, although cole slaw or potato salad is common. Baked beans are not very common, but red beans and rice is. Dishes are spicy, not sweet at all.

I don't know Memphis BBQ to comment. My understanding was it was a hybrid between KC and Carolina.
bkluvsNola is offline  
Apr 15th, 2010, 10:24 PM
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I have to differ on Rudy's. I think it was some of the worst BBQ I have had - and I lived in Austin for 7 years! The sauce was too peppery for me (black pepper) - that was the main taste in it.

Salt Lick (which is SW of Austin) has a fun atmosphere, but I did not particularly like their food, either. Not sure why, but it didn't do much for me. Maybe it's because I did not particularly like their side dishes. If you go, take cash, because they do not accept credit cards.

My favorite BBQ was Pok-e-Joe's. I really liked their sides, too - some of the best restaurant fried okra anywhere, and their baked potato casserole is pretty good, as are their cobblers. Stubb's was OK as well.

True Texas beans are not baked beans at all (they tend to be at least a little soupy) and often are called "ranch style". Sometimes they are cooked with salt meat in them for seasoning. They do not always have jalapeños in them - they might be spicy but usually are not (at least that's what I found to be true). I much prefer them to baked beans.

As far as meats go, brisket and sausage are king, but you can get chicken and even turkey in some places. Elgin, east of Austin, is famous for its sausage.
Cranachin is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 05:49 AM
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Iron Works downtown is my absolute favorite.
AustinTraveler is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 06:12 AM
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Here's a map of South Carolina that shows the four types of sauce (vinegar and peppers, mustard based, thin tomato type, thick ketchup type) found in this region, with a description of each style:

Variants of it are elsewhere on the internet.

One can indeed find chicken at various Carolina BBQ spots, but everything I've read suggests that pork is the predominant meat used. Here's a detailed online article that tells more:
bachslunch is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 08:24 AM
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Wow. You really touched a subject when you asked about Barbque. Getting all those replies in 3 days. I'll add my 2 cents also. I think that bachslunch really got it right (after he/she corrected Lockwood to Lockhart), even tho she or he had never been to the places. Those small places outside of Austin are regarded as the best and probably are. But Salt Lick which is closer to Austin is probably the best in my opinion. I don't agree with several of the posters about some restaurants inside the City, but everyone has an opinion. Notice that no one mentions San Antonio and that's probably for the reason that there isn't a good place there. Eat your fill of Barbeque in the Austin area and eat Mexican food in San Antonio. My rec there is Mi Tierra. Food is good, maybe not the best, but is a tourist place to not miss. In the downtown area. Have fun.
LarryRGV is offline  
Apr 16th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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"Notice that no one mentions San Antonio..." Uh, hellooooo.
AnnMarie_C is offline  

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